Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Parks in peril

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I consider myself to be particularly fortunate to be surrounded by unreasonable amounts of natural beauty. I'm a stones throw away from wonderful hikes (and occational black bear sightings) in the Cascades national park. Mount Ranier, Baker, Adams and St. Helens are just short drives away. There are the beautiful San Juan islands, where you can go out on a boat and watch Orca pods swim. And then there's the incredible Olympic national park, a world heritage site, and a temperate rainforest of stunning beauty. Every visit leaves me amazed, and delighted at the beauty of nature.

Like many other people, I think the National parks are the best thing that happened to this country. They are simply magnificient, and are undoubtedly treasures that we must save for future generations. The national parks in the US are also a shining example to the rest of the world on how to save these natural treasures, and delight in them.

But all is not happy. The October issue of The National geographic magazine has a cover story titled Parks in peril, and points out how much stress the parks are under. There are massive staff shortages, huge funding deficits (running in to hundreds of millions of dollars), huge stress from human encroachment, and immence pressure from various groups (from expanding suburban populations near the everglades to oil companies in Alaska) to open up the national parks for "development".

There will be many people who think it's just fine, and we don't need national parks. But if we can't save these few treasures, so unique that they are found no where else in the world, it will be a tragic shame.

The world will go on, people might survive, and "doomsday" may never come.

But the loss will be ours. And it will be irrecoverable.

This issue (like any other issue of National Geographic) is a must have.

5 comments:

Arunn said...

i used to wonder how words like "meadow" are utterly useless in (most of) India...i can relate to what you say now about parks...

on the other hand, i live inside one of the forests protected by the govt. right inthe middle of the city, causing people to comment, "what a waste of the land, it could all be better used for housing, if only the trees were removed"...

Sunil said...

Isn't it sad, Arun?

And I'm very familiar with your beautiful campus.........right opposite to yours is my alma maters campus (Anna U), where the "if only the trees were removed" philosophy seems to be a bit more in vogue.....

Part of the reason are the abysmal standards for environmental education, and basic awareness of even how say trees benefit cities.......it's going to take a long time for that to change. I have a strong desire to be involved in "environmental education" and such like when we eventually move back to India.....simple things like the concept of city parks and their advantages, the need to preserve lakes/rivers within cities.....

And I'll never take away the chance of seeing a deer on campus.....I hope the IITians appreciate what they've got.

Arunn said...

yes the IITians very much appreciate what they have got...check www.prakrithi.com, if you haven't already...i should blog about it sometime now...

DO come back sooner to india; it needs more of us in our active years...

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